East dominates shootout, wins Skills Competition

Saturday, 01.30.2016 / 11:03 PM
Mike Battaglino  - NHL.com Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- The Eastern Conference dominated the Western Conference in the Discover Shootout, the final event of the Honda All-Star Skills Competition at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

The Eastern Conference won the Skills Competition 29-12, which allowed it to choose the order of play in the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Captains Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers and John Tavares of the New York Islanders chose to play first.

"It's going to be good for us to play the first game," Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said. "Hopefully, we win and get a break for the second and get ready for the third. That's the whole point of playing the first period, able to maybe get a breather. The other team's going to have to play back to back games, which is tough."

The Eastern goalies -- Luongo, Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils -- stopped 26 of 28 Western shots in the Discover Shootout. Eastern shooters scored 17 points.

"[Roberto] really didn't give us much leeway," Holtby said. "He pitches a shutout going in there, there was a little more pressure on us to not get embarrassed. But we made it through."

The East took control in the second round when it scored six times on Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson after Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins was the only player on either side to score among 18 shots in the first round.

"I'm first guy [who goes] and just take my two shots," he said. "It's a surprise to me too; I can't believe I scored two goals."

Luongo stopped all nine attempts he faced.

"I got a little bit lucky I think on a couple of them," he said. "But that's why I skated this morning, just to get a little bit of a feel for it, and it worked out well."

There were three rounds of two minutes each; six skaters and one goalie participated in each round. A goal using a game puck was worth one point; a goal scored with a special Discover puck was worth two points.

The East won four of the six events (Bridgestone Fastest Skater, Honda Breakaway Challenge, DraftKings Accuracy Shooting, and the Discover Shootout). The West won the Gatorade Skills Challenge Relay and the AMP Hardest Shot.

Highlights included Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings setting a fastest skater record, P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens impersonating Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers to win the fan-voted breakaway challenge, and Shea Weber of the hometown Nashville Predators repeating as the hardest shot champion.

"It was one of the best skills competitions I've been a part of," Luongo said. "Just trying to put on a show for the fans. ... I think the guys really stepped up today and were creative and did some fun things out there."

The All-Star Game on Sunday will pit divisions within the same conference against each other (Atlantic vs. Metropolitan; Central vs. Pacific) in a 20-minute period, with the winners playing each other for a $1 million prize.

"I'm sure we'll get together with the guys and the coaches tomorrow and try to figure out a strategy," Weber said, "and go out there and try to win it."

Skills Competition Final Scores

Fastest Skater: East 5, West 1

Breakaway Challenge: East 1, West 0

Accuracy Shooting: East 3, West 2

Skills Challenge Relay: West 2, East 1

Hardest Shot: West 3, East 2

NHL Shootout: East 17, West 4

Final score: East 29, West 12

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